Sunday 21 January 2018

'We give millions to Greece but there's no help for us'

Isabel Hurley and Allison Bray

THEY are holding their breath all around Quinn country.

Today is D-Day for Quinn Insurance workers in Cavan, Navan and Enniskillen after weeks of anxious waiting.

But the ripples from the loss of Quinn jobs will spread out all across the region. President of Cavan Chamber of Commerce, Eamon McDwyer (CORR) told yesterday of the value of the "Quinn pound''.

For every Quinn job that goes, he says, three more will be hit. Like so many people here, he is linked to the company. His uncle Colman Smith works for Quinn Insurance.

"There are 870 jobs in Quinn Insurance in Cavan alone. They set up here in 1996 and are now the second biggest insurer in Ireland.

"Their pay roll is €20m a year for their Cavan office alone. For every job lost in Quinn, there could be a knock-on effect of 2,400 jobs -- everyone from pubs, hotels, car businesses and child-minders will be affected if 800 jobs go at Quinn.

"It's never too late in the day to save jobs and I believe that there should be a cabinet meeting in Cavan. We haven't seen Batt O'Keeffe up here or the Taoiseach, Brian Cowen. There has been no sign of the Minister for Finance or the Minister for Enterprise up here."

Former Quinn Insurance worker and now owner of the adjacent Kilmore Hotel, Ross Mealiff said: "I've owned the hotel here since 2005. I bought it off Sean Quinn who I worked for for 14 years, two of those in Quinn Insurance itself.

"We get a lot of business from Quinn Insurance, some €1.4m a year of our business comes from Quinn workers and 35 jobs here at the hotel would be depending on it so it's a major concern.

"I know Sean Quinn to be a very decent, honourable man. I find it unbelievable that our Government would not give him the state guarantee that he needed. He wasn't looking for their money. We are sinking about €500m into Greece and we aren't going to get a thing back from it. Yet when it comes to helping out an Irishman like Sean Quinn, no help is forthcoming and possibly thousands of jobs are now in jeopardy,'' said Mr Mealiff.

Some workers were close to tears as they left work yesterday.

Cian Carlin, an account executive based in Quinn's London office, said: "There is a lot of anger in there today. People are angry that it has come to this. They are angry that they learned about it through the media this morning. It's common courtesy that the work force should have been told first, it's our jobs.

Quinn Insurance staff representative Pat Rooney said that the job losses were "like a heavy body blow'' to Quinn's workforce. "There are husband and wives working in Quinn, they have mortgages, bills, children in school. It's absolutely unbelievable that it could come to this and yet our company makes €1m a day.

"We have a highly skilled workforce, underwriters, top IT people, these are highly skilled jobs. I can tell you that the prospect of that calibre of people getting equivalent jobs in this region is absolutely zero, there aren't any comparable jobs."

At Quinn Insurance's Dublin office, workers were similarly preparing for the worst.

None of the workers wished to be identified. But several voiced anger over the way the job losses were leaked.

"The atmosphere is very bad, especially to find out in the media before we were told anything, it's a bit sickening," said a 37-year-old woman who has worked at the firm for the past two years.

Irish Independent

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